“Learning, as a language based activity, is fundamentally and profoundly dependent on vocabulary knowledge.” *
This is the first in a series of posts about vocabulary. Some practical teaching ideas will follow. Here, I discuss the necessity for a focus on vocabulary as a method of ‘closing the gap’.
‘The Matthew effect’, coined by the sociologist Robert K Merton, is the idea that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This is certainly the case with students’ vocabulary. Hart and Isley’s study suggests that those in lower socio economic classes begin school knowing fewer words than their peers and that gap gets larger throughout their education. “Differences arise early, and the vocabulary gap between students grows larger over time”. (Baker, Kameenui 1998)